A few thoughts that meandered through my little grey cells while reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman:
- Oh, dear sweet Lord and oy gevalt, I will never look at a library book the same way again.
- Vindication! My feeling of umbrage justified, as I shook my head in agreement at Eleanor's dismay when asked by a fast-food coffee place employee, "Name, please?"
- Giggling out loud, I did, in reaction to Eleanor's walk of shame, post-bikini-wax.
- Is Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine? The title suggests no.
Me thinks yes. However, I am in the minority.
Chapter Endnotes readers' responses to Gail Honeyman's Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine were completely positive. Although most readers felt that Eleanor was on a fast-train to destruction, I believe dear Eleanor, a thirty-year-old woman, although socially awkward, dependent-a la Bridget Jones-on her vodka, a big fan of Tesco and lonely as hell, was coping pretty darn well for someone who was gobsmacked but good by horrific trauma as a 10-year-old child.
We know that feeling of not getting a joke. Of being left out. Being ostracized by friends is painful. When that abandonment is familial, the effects are devastating. Eleanor's life is an illustration of those results. Do we know an Eleanor? Do we embrace her, like her patient pal Raymond? If not, why?
You. Me. We all have a little Eleanor within. We all remember a time when we had to deal with someone whom, frankly, we'd rather not. Perhaps, alas, many times. Repeatedly. How refreshing, to be Eleanor, and in response to a man's invitation for a drink, reply in the negative. Eleanor has no interest participating in the social practice of reciprocation that may result in a net loss cost of two drinks. So, she says so.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine shines a positive light on the therapeutic power of counseling. It is no wonder that Miss Oliphant's therapist's name is Maria Temple. The book speaks to the power of patience. The beauty of Tesco. The warmth of two hands holding hers. The wonder of the whereabouts of make-up department employee Bobbi. Brown.
And no, no, no. Eleanor is not autistic. This description, made by many reviewers, mischaracterizes autism, a mental disorder that manifests genetically. Eleanor's behavior is a result of a series of tragic events. Nature versus nurture. In Eleanor's case, the latter lack of.
No more need be revealed about this debut novel, one that Reese Witherspoon has embraced as a future film. Reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine totally covers the light, dark, deep and refreshing.
And not that Reese is asking, but I could only envision a 30-year-old version of Janet Reno playing the lead. Wouldn't that be fine?
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